Devils 4, Panthers 3, OT

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SUNRISE, Fla. (AP)—Martin Brodeur stood in the crease, his arms raised above his head in triumph. It wasn’t another Stanley Cup victory, but winning 400 games so soon is almost as special.

Brodeur became the youngest goaltender to win 400 when Scott Niedermayer scored with 1:05 left in overtime Tuesday night, lifting the New Jersey Devils to a 4-3 victory over the Florida Panthers.

“I take a lot of pride in winning hockey games,” Brodeur said. “Stats are good, but wins really show the success you have. When I look at my years, I always look at wins.”

The 31-year-old Brodeur made 21 saves to reach the milestone after failing in two previous attempts. He accomplished the feat in fewer games than any other goalie and is 400-215-105 in 12 seasons. Patrick Roy is the all-time leader with 551 wins.

“The scary thing about Martin is that there is a lot more left,” Devils coach Pat Burns said. “He loves the game and he works hard at it and he’s only 31 years old. The big thing is there is a lot more to come for Marty Brodeur.”

Brodeur also became the first to win 400 playing every game for the same team.

“Not to take anything away from the other guys, but it’s tough for an organization to have success for so long,” Brodeur said. “It definitely makes it special. It says a lot about the success of the organization.”

Turner Stevenson, Brian Gionta and former Panther Viktor Kozlov also scored for the Devils, who clinched their eighth consecutive playoff appearance with the victory.

The Devils moved past Montreal into sixth place in the Eastern Conference with the win.

Niedermayer scored the winner when he skated in and beat Roberto Luongo with a quick wrist shot to the short side. At the other end of the ice, Brodeur raised his arms in celebration and was mobbed by his teammates.

It was Niedermayer’s eighth-career overtime goal, the most ever for a defenseman.

“Since it’s been four-on-four it’s easier for defensemen to score; it would have been more significant the other way,” Niedermayer said of his record. “(Overtime) is great. There s lots of room to skate. There’s back-and-forth action.”

Lyle Odelein scored twice for the Panthers, and Vaclav Nedorost also scored. The loss combined with the Islanders victory over Washington officially eliminated Florida from playoff contention.

“You want to win all your games,” Florida defenseman Mike Van Ryn said. “It’s unfortunate, we’ve had the goaltending to make a better (playoff) push than we did.”

Luongo finished with 46 saves, including 24 in the third period when the Panthers were outshot 25-4.

Stevenson tied it at 3-all with 8:38 left when he poked home a loose puck lying behind Luongo in the crease.

“He’s another great goalie,” Stevenson said of Luongo. “He’s going to be in the footsteps of Marty. This organization is going to be around a long when you’ve got a backbone like that.”

The Panthers took a 3-2 lead at 4:43 of the third period when Odelein scored on a power play with a slap shot from the point that went off the stick of Devils forward Jamie Langenbrunner and beat Brodeur through a screen.

Kozlov, the Panthers second-leading scorer all time, was playing in his first game against his former team since being traded March 1. He tied the game 2-all with the only goal of the second period when he beat Luongo with a wrist shot from the right circle.

It’s another game, but for me it’s going to be in my mind for a long time,” Kozlov said. It’s a big deal, but I hope the biggest thing (a Stanley Cup) is going to come. I’m happy I scored today, but I’ll be more happy later down the road.”

Gionta scored 7:11 into the game when his wrist shot from the top of the circle trickled under the right pad of Luongo.

The Panthers scored two goals in a span of 2:05 late in the first period to take a 2-1 lead.

Odelein, who came into the game with only one goal on the season, tied the game at 1-all with a slap shot from the point at 14:29. Nedorost then scored for the third consecutive game when he put in his own rebound past a fallen Brodeur.

Notes

Brodeur hasn’t lost at Florida since April 9, 1997, a span of 14 games (13-0-1). … The other goalies to win 400 games are Terry Sawchuk (447), Jacques Plante (435), Ed Belfour (431), Tony Esposito (423), Glenn Hall (407) and Grant Fuhr (403). … Niedermayer had been tied for most overtime goals by a defenseman with Brian Leetch. … Devils C Igor Larionov missed his sixth consecutive game because of a wrist injury. … Florida RW Donald Audettereturned after serving a two-game suspension for kicking an Islanders player.

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Three Stars

  Game Winning Goal
S. Niedermayer S. Niedermayer
New Jersey Devils
Scored at 3:55 of OT

Goaltending

Goalie Team Shot Save
Martin Brodeur StL 24 21